Words cannot describe the joy I felt when this boxset arrived in the mail. First, it is another boxset of my beloved show Mystery Science Theater 3000. Secondly, it is a THEME boxset: Gamera, the turtle star of many wonderful Japanese monster films. Included in this set are 5 Gamera films.
If you are not familiar with the show Mystery Science Theater 3000, here it is in a nutshell: Joel Robinson (Joel Hodgson) is rocketed into space by his evil boss and his assistant (Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff) and is forced to watch terrible, cheesy, poorly acted, poorly written, poorly shot, B-grade movies. The only way he keeps his sanity is by mocking and riffing on the movie-of-the-week with his robot friends, Tom Servo (Kevin Murphy) and Crow T. Robot (Bill Corbett).
So, let’s get on with the films included in this boxset, shall we?
First up, Gamera. Gamera, a giant flying turtle, has been released from his glacial tomb in the lost city of Atlantis after an atomic explosion. In his search for energy, Gamera wreaks havoc over the entire world, and it’s up to the scientists, assisted by a young boy with a strange link to the monster, to put a stop to Gamera’s rampage. Personally, I always feel sorry for Gamera. It isn’t like he chose to be a giant turtle.
In Gamera vs. Barugon, some dimwits go out in search of a mysterious opal and wind up unleashing a monster lizard. Gamera must return to earth to fight this beast. It is in this film that Gamera’s changes a bit: he helps fight off the monster lizard that is threatening humanity. See, he isn’t such a bad guy after all.
Next up is Gamera vs. Gaos. What is Gaos, you ask? Why, he is a gigantic bat that can spit lasers. Now that Gamera is a protector of humanity, he is prepared to do scuffle with this odd creature. Will humanity survive a giant bat and a giant turtle going to battle?
Are you in the mood for Gamera to meet some alien women and a monster with a giant knife for a nose? Well, fasten your seatbelts because that happens in Gamera Vs. Guiron. Three children stumble upon a flying saucer.Two children step in without hesitating, and are whisked away to a planet in Earth’s orbit but on the exact opposite side of the Sun. Inhabiting this planet are two women with Midwestern accents, who hypnotize the children to find they fantasize about donuts and Gamera, our favorite hero turtle. The alien women simply want to eat their brains. Back home, no one will believe the little girl’s story of alien abduction. Gamera rescues the children while fighting Guiron, a monster with a giant knife for a nose. You have to watch this film to believe it.
Finally, there is Gamera vs. Zigra. This film was made shortly before Daiei Studios went bankrupt. Make of that what you will. Gamera is fighting his strangest monster yet: Zigra, which is some sort of mutated ship, monster and planet. Zigra is pretty pissed off that “earth science” has ruined his home planets oceans and he wants to kick some turtle ass.
Joel and the gang provide a never ending supply of hilarious “riffs” and jokes throughout each of these movies. As the monsters get stranger, so does the humor. The skits that the gang come up with for the “breaks” in the film are some classics. If you remember that Tom Servo had a pet turtle then you will be thrilled to know that the classic performance of “Tibby, oh Tibby” song is in the boxset.
This one is a no brainer. Add this to the collection.
The show/films are presented in their original full frame aspect ratio. Of course, you would not expect the Gamera films offered to be presented perfectly and without any flaws. But, the presentation is decent and will not hamper your enjoyment of these films at all.
The show/films are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. The dialogue is clear in both the Mystery Science Theater show and in the films presented. This is not what you would demo your home theater with, but is perfect for the presentation of these classic MST3K episodes.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The 5 films are presented in a 5 DVD Limited Edition tin with Gamera’s cute mug on the cover. Shout Factory has done a great job in packaging this release. It will thrill Gamera fans and MST3K fans alike. There is a plethora of bonus material offered in this release, so let’s dig in. The extras spread over the 5 discs are several bonus features. MST3K Hour Host segments are offered. As well as original Japanese trailers for each of the films offered. So Happy Together: A Look Back at MST3K and Gamera is offered and is a great trip down memory lane for fans.
Gamera vs. The Chiodo Brothers has the acclaimed effects team reflecting on their thoughts about Gamera and Japanese monster films in general. Gamera Obscura: A Brief History by August Ragone has the author educating us on the cinematic legacy of Gamera and of Japanese monster films as a genre. Film fans will enjoy this one immensely. Rounding things out are 5 exclusive mini posters by Artist Steve Vance.
This is a great release by Shout Factory for all MST3K fans.
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10
The Films 10/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 9/10
Overall ( Not an Average) 9/10